This year’s Motor Show will, no doubt, attract the usual crowds to Earls Court, either to do business or just gape at the latest machinery the world’s automotive industry can provide. This year the Show is even to open on Sunday for the first time. But it will certainly be hard to pick a star of the show from the announcements, such as they are, for few manufacturers are gearing their new models for an Earls Court launch these days.
British Leyland, for instance, recently held their now annual Silverstone test day for journalists to try their latest offerings. They provided the complete range right up to 32-ton articulated Leyland lorries. Motor Sport‘s Assistant Editor, finding little else of interest that he had not driven before, gave the big wagons a try and found it an enlightening and fascinating experience. Well done B. L. for giving us such an opportunity. To be fair there were some new models, like the Daimler Double-Six Vanden Plas, which is basically an XJ12, but is stretched by four inches to give more rear leg room. Fitted as standard are air-conditioning, Sundym glass and other luxurious fitments.
Amongst the other new additions to the range are one or two revised models which will be embargoed until just before the Show, but, expect a more powerful Austin Maxi and a slightly revised MG-B.
Ford, having introduced the Granada/Consul range earlier this year, have little new to show to the public. Somehow we missed out on a recent invitation to see their latest offerings but understand that there will be a new 2-litre Capri which is powered by the Pinto/Cortina unit, while the Capri 3-litre has also had some revisions.
Chrysler, likewise, have a comprehensive range these days and seem unlikely to have anything startling to offer. But the smaller British manufacturers have something new, including the latest Gilbern Invader, Lotus’ five-speed gearbox models and both Panther (see colour section) and Clan will appear at the Show for the first time. The Jensen-Healey will no doubt attract quite a crowd.
The Ferraris, Maseratis and Lamborghinis always draw those gaping masses, while several of the other foreign manufacturers will also be drawing attention away from British exhibits.
Mercedes-Benz, for instance, are at present engaged in a big sales push at the lower end of the market. Their research has told them that the general public sees them as purveyors of motor cars to the managing director and no one else. Now they are hoping to win back some of the BMW/Jaguar market with the smaller and less expensive 250 model which is now powered by a 2.8-litre single-overhead camshaft engine. This retails at £3,275, while the smaller four-cylinder 220 is now £2,699.
BMW’s sales in Britain have rocketed recently and should increase even further with the new 2-litre 520 models which will be available in the Spring. Meanwhile the big BMWs will take a lot of stopping even with Mercedes-Benz’ new policy.
Alfa Romeo’s two super new cars, the baby Alfasud and the rear-gearboxed Alfetta, are not generally available in this country yet but should capture more sales, for the Italian firm, which already has an excellent, if limited, range. The Japanese move relentlessly forward here too and Mazda will be worth watching now the concessionaires have been reformed.
There will also be a range of revised Volvos with even more safety built in, Fiat’s huge range will be on display, and Volkswagen continue to do well in Britain even if they lag in other territories. It will probably be many British Show visitors first chance to view the latest Renault 15s and 17s but those who have been to France this year will already have seen them.
If the crush gets too much, or you have seen all the cars, there is always hours of interest in the galleries where the component and accessory manufacturers gather in great abundance and where much of the Show’s real business is done. Motor Sport will have its stand its its usual ground floor situation with our range of publications (including the new Austin 7 book) on sale as well as exhibits of motor racing photographs by the staff. Drop in to renew your subscription, order a back number or simply to chat.